Uruguay almost over the line, Chile can't rest easy

SANTIAGO • After watching his side climb from sixth in the South American standings to third, Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi warned his players against complacency.

The reigning Copa America champions survived a late scare to beat Ecuador 2-1 in Santiago on Thursday, with Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez grabbing the winner with five minutes left.

But, with an upcoming trip to Brazil in Sao Paulo, where Chile will be without star midfielder Arturo Vidal after he picked up a yellow card, Pizzi knows the job is not yet done.

"We're going to have to keep fighting. The last effort remains and we are confident we can compete with Brazil," he said.

"We will prepare for the match in the best possible way. We still have not achieved anything and it will be very difficult."

Brazil are the only South American side to have guaranteed their World Cup Finals spot with one round of qualifiers left. The five-time world champions have never lost a World Cup qualifier at home.

The top-four teams qualify automatically for Russia, with the fifth-placed side facing Oceania champions New Zealand in a two-legged play-off.

Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Peru will all be dependent on results in Tuesday's matches.

Second-placed Uruguay were left waiting to confirm their qualification on Thursday after being held to a 0-0 away draw by Venezuela.

They could have booked their ticket to Russia with victory over a Venezuelan side who had already been eliminated from contention.

Venezuela, however, were in no mood to make things easy for the visitors and frustrated the two-time world champions with a dogged defensive display.

Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani squandered a golden chance after being set up by substitute Giorgian de Arrascaeta in the 83rd minute. Barcelona star Luis Suarez also went close late on, but his desperate diving header rolled just wide.

Uruguay will face Bolivia in their final qualifier in Montevideo, where a draw or win will guarantee their place in the Finals.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2017, with the headline 'Uruguay almost over the line, Chile can't rest easy'. Print Edition | Subscribe